It's not so long ago that the Democrats pressed the "Reset" button with Russia, and Obama personally assured Putin's flunkey that once the election was over he'd have more "flexibility", and his court eunuchs in the media mocked Romney for getting zinged with that killer line about the 1980s calling and wanting their foreign policy back.
But that was then. As the Democrats have it, for the past five years Russia has been a malignant subverter of American democracy and the rogue state behind everything, up to and including the porn on Hunter Biden's laptop. It was a dizzying switcheroo, but in tonight's episode of our current Tale for Our Time Winston Smith gets to experience a similar geopolitical alignment in real time. Oceania's old ally Eastasia is now, mysteriously but instantly, an enemy:
On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns--after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces--at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.
There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy. Winston was taking part in a demonstration in one of the central London squares at the moment when it happened... The speech had been proceeding for perhaps twenty minutes when a messenger hurried on to the platform and a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker's hand. He unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech. Nothing altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly the names were different. Without words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd. Oceania was at war with Eastasia..! There was a riotous interlude while posters were ripped from the walls, banners torn to shreds and trampled underfoot... But within two or three minutes it was all over. The orator, still gripping the neck of the microphone, his shoulders hunched forward, his free hand clawing at the air, had gone straight on with his speech. One minute more, and the feral roars of rage were again bursting from the crowd. The Hate continued exactly as before, except that the target had been changed.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part Nineteen of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here. We're now in our fourth season and have built up quite an archive. So, if you've a chum who's a fan of classic fiction in audio form, don't forget our Mark Steyn Club gift membership.
Thanks for your comments about this latest serialization. Simon Collins, a Steyn Clubber from New South Wales, has mixed feelings:
Like everyone else I'm enjoying your reading of Nineteen Eighty-Four, but I can't believe I'm the only person who cringes at your protagonists' voices - especially Winston's and Julia's. They are, frankly, awful and undermine Orwell's characterisations.
For Wayne Lanham, a First Fortnight Founding Member from Indiana, the problem is not the protagonists but the bit players:
While I agree some of Mark's choices have been distracting for this novel (the old man in the pub?), I think saying they undermine Orwell's characterizations is off the mark.
Next time I guest-host Rush I'm doing all three hours in the pub-geezer voice - just for you, Wayne.
If you've yet to hear any of our four dozen Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club - and don't forget our special Gift Membership. Oh, and please join me tomorrow for Part Twenty of Nineteen Eighty-Four.